Some of the most obvious ones include soaps and antibacterial wipes, but you can also find it in cutting boards, toys, clothing, household furnishings, pet food dispensers, and much more.
Despite the pervasive use of this chemical, troubling questions linger about its potentially harmful effects, especially for children.
Research has shown that triclosan can alter hormone regulation and may interfere with fetal development.
Animal studies have also raised concerns about its ability to affect fertility, and bacteria exposed to triclosan may also become resistant to antibiotics. Even an increased cancer risk has been suggested.
In short, while you’re disinfecting your body and your home to keep your family safe from potentially harmful bacteria, you may actually be causing far more harm than good in the long run.
Triclosan Removed from Soap, But Still Found in Best-Selling Toothpaste
Three years ago, Colgate-Palmolive responded to safety concerns brought forth by consumer groups by removing triclosan from its soap products. But the company left it in its best-selling toothpaste, Colgate Total. (Colgate Total is the only triclosan-containing toothpaste sold in the US.)
But if triclosan can cause serious health problems when used topically, surely using it in your mouth is not going to be any safer, as chemicals are readily absorbed in your oral cavity.
For example, zinc-containing denture creams like Fixodent, Poligrip, Super Poligrip, and others, have been linked to zinc poisoning.1 Toxic effects include serious neurological problems, including neuropathy.
There are even class-action lawsuits underway by people who have been poisoned by their denture creams. With regards to triclosan-containing toothpaste, Bloomberg2 reports:
“Total is safe, Colgate says, citing the rigorous Food and Drug Administration process that led to the toothpaste’s 1997 approval as an over-the-counter drug.
A closer look at that application process, however, reveals that some of the scientific findings Colgate put forward to establish triclosan’s safety in toothpaste weren’t black and white — and weren’t, until this year, available to the public.”
Toxicology Studies Withheld from Public View
According to the featured Bloomberg report, 35 pages of summaries of the toxicology studies performed on triclosan were initially withheld by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
They only became available via a Freedom of Information Act request from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The toxicology summaries are now available on the FDA’s website.3
A crucial point that has been noted before is that the FDA relies on company-backed science to “prove” that a drug or product is safe and effective. This despite the fact that industry-funded research is almost never impartial, thanks to obvious and massive conflicts of interest.
Many people still do not take this into consideration. They believe that “FDA approved” means that the FDA has performed some sort of independent scientific study. It hasn’t.
At best, the FDA carefully reviews the research submitted, but there’s plenty of room for cherry-picking and other strategies that can skew the safety profile. According to the featured report:
“The recently released pages, taken alongside new research on triclosan, raise questions about whether the agency did appropriate due diligence in approving Total 17 years ago, and whether its approval should stand in light of new research, said three scientists who reviewed the pages at Bloomberg News’s request.”